From the crowd that brought us ‘shrink the government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub’ comes « a truly brilliant idea »:

‘The Bush administration is threatening to shut an airfield at Midway Atoll in the mid-Pacific that has been available as an emergency landing site for decades. The airlines say the closing would force many two-engine planes flying between North America and Asia to make a long detour to hug the coastline of Alaska and the Russian far east, and could force some flight cancellations. Three- and four-engine planes are not required to stay within a certain range of emergency fields. But safety experts say that these planes will still face increased risk in flying the mid-Pacific route, because they will be farther from land in case of fire, system failure or passenger illness, which are the main reasons for emergency landings.

’The airlines are furious. “It seems like the government has just lost sight of the importance of Midway,” said Gene Cameron, the manager of flight dispatching at United Airlines. Dispatchers plan aircraft routes based on prevailing winds and, especially in flights over water, availability of alternate landing spots. But the Transportation Department, which has paid $3.5 million to the Interior Department to keep the airfield open for the last few months, is determined to stop. “There is no other airport available to commercial interests that we pay to operate,” said Brian Turmail, a Transportation Department spokesman.’

As Duane Woerth, the president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said:

‘I’m really ripped about this ridiculous loss of safety … This is an inherently governmental function. They keep trying to outsource this inherently governmental responsibility.’

Well, that’s the Emperor’s M.O., Duane. The market is God. Worship the market. The market can do no wrong. Screw safety and everybody and everything else. The market must be appeased.

Ridiculous indeed.